Imagine you went to a movie and the hero...let's say Harrison Ford...takes a bullet in the first minute of the show. He's not dead, but it's a close thing, and it forces the amusing and loveable, although not nearly so heroic, sidekicks...let's call 'em Brendan Fraser and Meg Ryan...to handle the stunts for the first hour. Meg and Brendan would bumble their way through some sticky situations, maybe even steal a laugh or two. All the time the bad guys would be coming closer, though, gaining strength because Meg and Brendan just don't have the skills and the chutzpah to take the baddies down. Beyond all the bumbling and joking is a serious situation and you know Harrison Ford is going to have to recover from the bullet wound and save the world.
If you went to that movie, you'd know what's going to happen next, right? Brendan and Meg would be captured and waiting to die. The world would have less than twenty-four hours before Armageddon. That's when Harrison would make his dramatic return to action. He'd rise from his sickbed, find his pistol under the mattress and say something like, "Okay, you tried bullets. Now let's see what you bastards have *really* got." The next thing we'd know, he'd be creeping through an air duct and dropping down on the heads of the guards. He'd disable the nuclear war heads the bad guys are about to launch, punch a bunch of the creeps and shoot their leader. Then he'd steal Meg from Brendan and ride off into the sunset, saying something like, "Next time, you can take your own bullet, sweetheart?"
So, what's this all about, you ask? Well, it means the Habs are going to win the Cup this year, of course. You heard it here first. Andrei Markov went down in the first game...disaster! He was supposed to be out until after the Olympics...doomed! The team he left behind made a plucky effort to stay close to .500 without him, but injuries and fatigue began to take their toll and the other players just couldn't maintain the pace. Now Markov's set to make a miraculous comeback...in time for his birthday no less, and how Hollywood is that?...months ahead of schedule. And if there's one thing this team needs, it's a holiday miracle.
Things are looking bad right now, I'll admit, but all is not lost. Not yet. There's still time. The standings are so close, a five or six game winning streak could change the picture entirely. And with a road trip of games the team can win with a little help from an All Star, Markov's return gives them hope...and a chance. I was talking to a guy behind the scenes with the team yesterday, and he said everyone in the trainers' room is astonished at the speed of Markov's recovery. It's got to be inspirational for his teammates.
Of course, Markov has been out a long time. The difference he makes at first might be mostly in the morale department, but that's something. It's a ray of hope for a team that was looking ahead at a pretty bleak path. And wherever his level of play is at first, we know he'll get better and better. The other players will have to help out with their best efforts in support of Markov in the beginning, and let him get his game back. The hero has returned in time to save the world, but he's just one guy.
Then again, so is Harrison Ford.